We’ve written before about our rain barrels, and the satisfying experience of collecting water as it cascades from the sky, flows from our rooftoop, and splashes into our barrels that wait anxiously beneath the downspouts. We made it through the entire drought-stricken summer last year without ever using the outdoor faucets to water our gardens or fill the backyard kiddie pool. A short burst of rain, diverted from the rooftop, is all it takes to fill a 55-gallon barrel, and even our chunky 330-gallon tank only needs an hour or so of heavy rainfall before the water gurgles and gushes out the top.
But this post isn’t about rain barrels. This post is about our latest experience with the joys of collecting rain water: Our outdoor shower. Anyone who has spent much time with me in the summer knows I far prefer a quick dip in the lake or a rinse in the river to clear the dirt and sweat, rather than spend any unnecessary time spinning circles in the bathroom. And with so much success rain-barreling last summer, I thought I’d convert one of our barrels to an elevated outdoor shower.
The only labor-intensive part was putting together a stand for the barrel to sit on. First I constructed a pedestal, similar to an old-fashioned water tower stand. I used cedar posts for the legs and constructed a pallet platform from scrap wood and small cedar logs. I mounted the pallet to the cedar posts at a height that would allow the barrel to sit directly beneath the gutter. I ensured stability and balance by shimming and adjusting the ground on which the pedestal sits. Lastly, I anchored the cedar posts by driving iron rebar into the ground alongside the posts and then chained the posts to the rebar. Don’t want my shower falling and squishing me while I scrub.
The conversion of the rain barrel into a shower was quite simple. I purchased an adapter at the hardware store that would allow a standard shower head to fit my faucet. I re-claimed a shower head from an old cabin that was going to be torn down, and I painted my barrel dark brown in hopes of absorbing a little more heat (and giving the shower a more natural aesthetic.)
As a final touch I graded a flat area beneath the shower and laid yard brick for the shower floor. I had spent my first few showers sliding around on the wet, grassy slope, so the brick floor is a nifty addition.
We’ve had trouble even reaching 70-degrees this summer, so my showers have been quite cold thus far. But I look forward to those hot July days, staggering over from the garden, reaching up and turning on my refreshing rain rinse.